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Tobacco trafficking in Île-de-France: the ex-judoka arrested with 16 tons of contraband cigarettes

2022-07-04T12:04:31.305Z

A former international athlete was arrested in the Paris region by customs who had been investigating this network of imps for two months.



He is a former world sambo champion and a former international level judoka.

But this time, Sergiu, square beard and broad shoulders, has just lost his fight.

This 35-year-old Moldovan was indicted on Friday July 1 by a judge of the interregional jurisdiction of Paris, for smuggling cigarettes in an organized gang before being imprisoned.

He is suspected of having, between May and June 2022 in Île-de-France, participated in the delivery of several tens of tons of cartridges of counterfeit cigarettes.

It was in May that the judicial customs investigators collected information on this team of importers who were targeting the Paris region, which was particularly affected by street vending.

They place suspects under surveillance and identify cubicles and warehouses that serve as storage places.

“Several comings and goings were observed”, explains a source close to the file.

85,000 cartons of cigarettes

On Wednesday June 29, the agents arrested Sergiu in the Paris region when he came to deliver the goods at the wheel of a van.

The police get their hands on 16 tons of cigarettes, or 85,000 cartridges.

“This man has all the appearance of a small hand, underlines a source close to the case.

But first impressions are sometimes misleading and subsequent investigations will allow us to better understand its exact role in this organization.

Shortly after, customs officers also arrested a woman in an Airbnb apartment.

But a third accomplice managed to slip through the mesh of their net by leaving the scene the day before the operation.

Read alsoSmuggled cigarettes, drugs ... among thugs, the "Made in France criminal" is popular

Sergiu was taken into custody in the customs offices and, during his hearings, he confessed.

“He explained himself on several occasions,” underlines his lawyer, who notes that he has shown himself to be cooperating with justice.

The criminal record of this professional sportsman is clean and it is even the first time that he has been arrested by the French police.

This father of four children, who lives in Germany, explains that when he comes to France, he sleeps in the metro to limit the costs.

And if he participates in these imports, it would only be for the money because he is in a difficult financial situation.

France has become a target for traffickers

If the French territory remains a transit point for the delivery of contraband tobacco and cigarettes from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom, it is now gradually becoming a target for traffickers.

In 2021, 402.1 tons of contraband tobacco were seized by French customs, an increase of more than 41% compared to 2020. A growing share of traffickers import tobacco and cigarettes into France by road from the neighboring countries, i.e. Spain, Belgium and Germany.

In Île-de-France, packets of contraband cigarettes are sold on the sly in front of Parisian stations and in the suburbs by teams often made up of young people who live illegally in the territory and who find a way to survive there.

And as with drugs, there are semi-wholesalers who store medium quantities and supply street vendors daily.

Source: leparis

All tech articles on 2022-07-04

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